Charles Maxwell
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Bull (Zambezi) Sharks

One of the most dangerous and unpredictable of sharks. I have found Zambezi sharks to be very unpredictable. Sometimes weary of divers at other times unnervingly aggressive. Considered to be one of the three most dangerous sharks along with white sharks and tiger sharks. Probably the most interesting aspect of these sharks is their ability to adapt to fresh water. Therefore, they are able to penetrate far up rivers, hence the local name Zambezi shark. It is in these shallow murky waters that some attacks occur on humans.

Many of our river estuaries are blocked during periods of low rainfall by sandbars in a natural process. One such estuary in St Lucia. Here, when the rains come and the river burst into the sea huge shoals of mullet congregate. This creates an orgy of feeding with Zambezi sharks entering from the sea and crocodiles lining the banks.

One of my most uncomfortable experiences with sharks I have had was a dive with Zambezi Sharks. I was filming blacktip sharks in clear water near the surface. We were dropping sardines into the water to get the sharks to pick them up, simulating how they pick up stunned sardines beneath a baitball. The seabed was 30 metres below me but I could not see it from the surface as there was a layer of dirty water below me. After a few minutes I saw large dark forms in the gloomy water. They were Zambezi Sharks coming up from below to feed on the sardines. Being short on footage of these sharks I descended towards the seabed. Once through the dirty water I entered a layer of clear cold water near the sandy seabed. Now, visually cut off from the surface support team, I found myself surrounded by 6 Zambezi Sharks. As they circled, one or two would charge in towards me. I was pleased when I had a few minutes of footage and could return to the more friendly blacktip sharks.

2002 Emmy Award
Winner for Outstanding

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